Middle-aged men playing tag

Joe Tombari and eight of his friends have been playing a game of tag that they started in the schoolyard. That was twenty-three years ago. Tombari and his buddies are in their 40s now, and the game continues. From the Wall Street Journal:
One February day in the mid-1990s, Mr. Tombari and his wife, then living in California, got a knock on the door from a friend. "Hey, Joe, you've got to check this out. You wouldn't believe what I just bought," he said, as he led the two out to his car.

What they didn't know was Sean Raftis, who was "It," had flown in from Seattle and was folded in the trunk of the Honda Accord. When the trunk was opened he leapt out and tagged Mr. Tombari, whose wife was so startled she fell backward off the curb and tore a ligament in her knee.

"I still feel bad about it," says Father Raftis, who is now a priest in Montana. "But I got Joe."

"It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being 'It'"


  1. “What a choice, to keep an attendant from pawing at my pulse for the next 20 years, I have to sit out on that front porch like a vegetable.”
    -Ernest Truex, “Kick The Can” (episode of The Twilight Zone”)

    Apparently you can go home again, even if only briefly.

    1. One summer night we had nothing to do and we were bored with our usual teen hooliganism.  So we set out for a convenience store about a mile away.  Right away we started kicking a can, with the occasional hip check thrown in.  Half way there someone heard us clattering down the dark  street and said “Don’t you have anything better to do?”  and we all said “NO!!!”  So went to the convenience store, got a soda and came back kicking another can.  Someone else yelled “Don’t you have anything better to do?” and we all just laughed.

  2. As soon as I saw the headline I said “Oh sure it’s fun until someone tears a knee ligament.”

  3. Fast forward 30 years from now. One of them has nothing but the word “It” on his tombstone. 

  4. I imagine one of the guys rising from the holy water like some sort of leviathan during the middle of a sermon to tag Father Raftis.  I’d go to church more often if stuff like that happened.

    1. Puts me in mind of my favorite Edward Gorey limerick:

      “The babe, with a cry brief and dismal,
      Fell into the water baptismal.
      Ere they’d gathered its plight
      It had sunk out of sight,
      For the depth of the font was abysmal.”

    1. It’s not there anymore and I have no idea what happened to it, but back in the early 80s while visiting the old El Cajon Cemetery, my sister and brother and I found the oddest tombstone. This was in the section of the cemetery reserved for stillborn infants and small children, behind an oddly tasteful wrought-iron gate that read “Babyland” at the top. The gate was black comedy enough for my siblings and me, but then we happened upon a small headstone that was engraved “To Our Little Pigface.”

      We never laughed so hard in our lives, before or since. Sad as the whole place was, this was the ultimate example of “you had to be there” humor in my personal experience. Last time I went to the cemetery (in the late 90s), the headstone and the gate were nowhere to be found. I began to think I’d imagined it, until I asked my sister. Nope. She remembered it exactly the same as I did. So now I just wonder about what happened to that grave, what memorandum (if any) might have been sent to the grieving parents regarding a change in policy for headstone inscriptions, etc.

      I think about things like that.

  5. Ahem! As someone in his 40s, I take offense to the title of this article! “Middle-aged” starts in one’s 50s at least. And when I’m in my 50’s, it will have moved to the 60s.

    1. Life expectancy for a man in the US is 75 years, so at 55, I left middle age five years ago.

      1. Are you suggesting that ‘middle age’ is the middle third of one’s life (25-50)?

        I don’t think many people would agree that a 25 year old is middle-aged. Wikipedia suggests that it’s closer to the third quarter.

        1. It seems to me that ‘middle age’ should mean the middle period of your life, not the first half of the last third. Horror of aging and fear of death shouldn’t cause us to lose sight of the fact that ‘middle’ has an actual meaning.

          1. There’s no need for the ‘middle period’ to be the same duration as the ‘old’ and ‘young’ sections, though. 

            I’d argue that it’s the period that includes the midpoint of a lifespan- so if I can expect to die somewhere between 70 and 90, middle age should be 35-45.

          2. Come back when you’re 46 and tell me that you’re OK with being called “old”.

            I’m OK with being called “old”.

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